Serious Residential Delinquencies Still Down; Durable Goods Orders Up

Single-family serious delinquency rate dropped from 2.4 percent in January to 2.3 percent in February, lowest since February 2009. New orders for durable manufactured goods increased 2.2 percent in February month over month.

Freddie Mac reported on Wednesday that its single-family serious delinquency rate dropped from 2.34 percent in January to 2.29 percent in February. During February 2013, the rate was 3.15 percent, and the February 2014 rate is the lowest since February 2009; the rate peaked in February 2010 at 4.2 percent.

The company’s definition of serious delinquency is mortgage loans that are “three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure.” Historically, a normal rate of serious delinquency is about 1 percent; at the current rate of decline, it will be sometime next year before normalcy returns to this metric.

Also on Wednesday, Freddie Mac also released its first Multi-Indicator Market Index, which it calls MiMi. The new index purports to measure the stability of the nation’s housing market, as well as the housing markets of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the top 50 metro markets. According to the GSE, MiMi combines proprietary Freddie Mac data with current local market data to calculate a range of equilibrium for each single-family housing market covered.

The company has retroactively calculated previous MiMi, and concludes that national MiMi stands at -3.08 points in January 2014, indicating a weak housing market overall, though it’s up 0.81 points from one year ago. The nation’s housing market is improving based on its three-month trend of +0.17 points, and is moving closer to its stable, according to Freddie Mac. The nation’s all-time MiMi low of -4.49 was in November 2010, when the housing market was at its weakest.

Durable Goods Orders Rise in February 

The Census Bureau said on Wednesday that new orders for durable U.S. manufactured goods increased 2.2 percent in February month over month to an annualized $229.4 billion, following a 1.3 percent decrease in January. Excluding defense, new orders were up 1.8 percent.

Transportation equipment, which is somewhat volatile on a monthly basis, led the February increase, coming in at an increase of 6.9 percent. Orders for transportation equipment had dropped two months in a row before February. Take transportation out of the overall calculation, and new orders were only up 0.2 percent.

Wall Street had a down day on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 98.89 points, or 0.6 percent. The S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent, while the Nasdaq composite declined 1.29 percent.